This Mercedes-Benz 280SE Has German Poise, Belgian Sophistication, and '80s Something
Carat Duchatelet is a Belgian coachbuilder that creates limos and custom creations like this big Benz.
The mid-1980s Mercedes-Benz S-Class is already a stately automobile, a large and expensive status symbol for its time with a comforting heft that recalls a bank vault. Giving it a topcoat of Belgian coachwork, including racy ground effects (with the coachbuilder's name embossed on the front air dam!) and some special touches inside really takes it over the top. Meet the Mercedes-Benz 280SE Carat by Duchatelet.
Operating out of Liege, Belgium, since 1968, Carat Duchatelet has had a special relationship with the S-Class since the beginning. Soon after working its cosmetic magic on a host of Mercedes-Benz products, its customers—well-heeled and important, as you'd expect—started asking Carat Duchatelet to up-armor their Benzes. That's become an important part of the modern business, creating stretch limo versions of various vehicles as diverse as Mercedes-Maybach and even a few Toyota Land Cruiser models, but this particular 1985 280SE—listed on Bring a Trailer—isn't armored. It's just awesome.
But it's not pristine. This one shows some wear and tear, but nothing that a dedicated Carat Duchatelet enthusiast couldn't fix up with some love and dollars (or Euros). It's a European model, imported quite recently (2017), and looks classy with its very Euro-nerdy heckblende rear reflector panel housing the license plate holder and Diamond Blue Metallic paint. The deep-dish basketweave wheels are a touch of high-roller status, as well.
While this one originally came with blue velour inside, it's been redone with even more tasteful blue leather—which is in need of some deep conditioning but appears to be salvageable. But the Carat Duchatelet-fitted instrument cluster, with a unique font, looks fantastic and never lets you forget you're driving a special creation. There's even a little pole on the passenger side bumper—it looks like a flagpole, like you'd see on a diplomatic vehicle, but in reality it's a parking pole that helps the driver find the corner of the car. The little Mercedes star on top helps the driver avoid curbing that incredible front spoiler or those hot wheels.
It may not nearly be as well-known as other coachbuilt S-Class creations, but there's no denying the uniqueness of the Carat Duchatelet conversion seen here. And while things could certainly change in the three days left on the auction at the time of this writing, so far the bidding seems reasonable—$4,500 for a very '80s, very European take on an already sophisticated and tasteful modern classic.
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